Web video has its fair share of movie review shows. Cinekids TV (Tilzy.TV page) put an 8 year-old girl and her younger brother in front of a camera to shyly talk children’s movies, still too young to correctly pronounce their “r”s. Charlie Baker’s Cinema Psychic (Tilzy.TV page) uses his clairvoyant abilities and dry wit to influence moviegoers’ cinematic choices. The gabby Girls on Film (Tilzy.TV page) will talk your ear off about recent flicks. Reel Discussions (Tilzy.TV page) defies the industry critics by delivering movie reviews from a layman’s perspective.

None, however, have a thumb up on Ebert and Roeper (Tilzy.TV page).

Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper have co-hosted their syndicated movie review show, “At the Movies”, since Ebert’s previous partner, Gene Siskel, passed away in 1999.  Under one name or another, the show has aired on television since 1975 and grown to define the genre.

With the launch of the user-friendly Ebert and Roper late last year, cinephiles and movie goers looking for informed and engaging filmic discussions need no longer turn to  television sets. Archives dating back to September 2006 offered an extensive online selection of the latest new movies to hit theatres nationwide.

But what about all the previous episodes? The tapings with Siskel when the show was produced by PBS and Tribune Broadcasting?

“Gene and I knew those old shows would be worth saving, but for a long time nobody agreed with us,” remarked Ebert. It wasn’t until 1985, when Buena Vista picked up the show, that the tapes ended up being saved instead of being thrown in a dumpster.

Now, thanks to those archival efforts, Ebert and Roeper yesterday opened up the Balcony Archive, with over 5,000 clips featuring film reviews from the past two decades.

“For years this was a dream,” said Ebert. “Now I am exhilarated that it is a reality, thanks to the enormous effort of digitizing something like 1,000 programs. It is always fascinating to go back and see what was being said about a film before it opened. The disagreements, between me and Siskel and Roeper, will be fun to revisit, and even more exciting will be our sense of discovery when we find something like ‘Boyz N the Hood,’ ‘Fargo,’ ‘Hoop Dreams,’ or ‘Monster.’ I may start searching around in this archive and never stop!”

Curious to know what Ebert thought of Full Metal Jacket? “Few films will be more disappointing.” Want to know what Siskel says about Pulp Fiction? The film “vibrates with interesting characters.” How about Roeper on Gigli? A “modern disaster.”
Way to go, Siskel, Ebert, Roeper, and Buena Vista. You all get two thumbs way up.

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